Both the food industry and the general public have reacted negatively to the suggestion that the UK government should impose a tax on unhealthy foods. However, with sales of unhealthy snacks falling as people become more concerned about obesity, healthy eating products already appear to be winning consumers over, without the tax.
The recommendations for new food taxes were published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, which stated that such taxes could potentially stop 3,000 deaths a year. The tax would be imposed on a range of foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt, costing consumers about an extra GBP0.67 a week. The levy would be more wide ranging than the current 17% VAT charge that is imposed on a limited number of foods, such as biscuits, ice cream and salty snacks.
A similar recommendation was rejected in 2004 by Tony Blair, who was concerned that the tax could have the opposite affect to that intended, turning people off healthy food and leading to accusations of a 'nanny state'. This time round, the tax has been criticized for potentially hitting poorer families the hardest, as they tend to buy more fatty foods. In addition, it would see nutritious foods such as cheese hit with the tax, because of its high salt and fat levels.